Laziness, Racism, and Systemic Change

Laziness, racism, and systemic change

Jude Walker

I’m lazy. In saying this it may seem that I’ve embraced yet another identity marker: woman, white, educated…lazy. I say this not as a point of pride nor of shame but as an offering. I think we’re all lazy when we have the opportunity to be. The history of humans has fundamentally been about responding to this fact—less toil, less trouble, greater efficiency. I tend to think I’m particularly lazy as someone with a lifelong struggle with ADD. Looking back at old school report cards tells it all, culminating with the reference for university I received from my high school dean: “Judith is quite capable when she can be bothered” (Yes, I still harbor resentment towards Ms Greenlees). One of the key diagnostic criteria of ADD is “Often avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort.” This paper is not about ADD—whether it is “real,” biological, caused by trauma, or that it is just a result of 21st century living given all the technological distractions we’re presented with. Nor is divulging this fact about myself a way for me to prove I have a sufficiently high Suffering Quotient (SQ—yes, I made that up). It’s likely a divergence from the crux of my argument (remember, I am lazy). Actually, when I make an effort to think about it, I am readily aware of the privilege I have: white, rich, university professor in Canada. I get that I won the ovarian lottery. I’m also acutely aware that I say inappropriate things at inappropriate times—perhaps like speaking at all right now as a white woman and about racism at that. But, what the heck; I felt it was worth putting in the minimal effort to write this blog post to talk about “laziness, racism, and systemic change.”

Photo by shutterstock.com

Racism is a story of laziness. The genius idea of 15-16th Century colonizers was to divide everyone into some invented racialized group as they conquered, as it was too cumbersome to put in the sustained mental effort to realise this was total BS. Getting people to do sh*t for you, without being bothered by having to treat them as human beings or pay them, is the epitome of laziness—and, yes, selfishness, and, of course, the ultimate dehumanising I-it relationship. Slavery wasn’t a breakthrough new idea of the second millennia; the elite ancient Greeks, as an example, had figured this out with the minimal effort it required. Nor was racism unique to Europe. However, it seems that anti-black racism and white supremacy got a big boost from the colonizers’ laziness in taking slaves from West Africa rather than elsewhere as it was more convenient, expedient. Inertia then kind of set in—systemic racism pervaded our institutions, mentality, ways of thinking. Racial privilege continued. Inertia, as we know, requires an external force to break; I imagine that even those of my white ancestors who thought this wasn’t the greatest system decided it was too much effort to think about it being different, let alone try to change it.

There have been countless studies now showing that in Canada and elsewhere people with non-English sounding names on their resumes are less likely to be invited to interview for a job. Bayesian statistics—unlike frequentist statistics—argues that we operate from Bayesian priors in determining probability distributions. A “prior”, according to Wikipedia (since I’m too lazy to find a better definition, nor do I really understand Bayesian statistics but I like the metaphor) is “the probability distribution that would express one’s beliefs about this quantity before some evidence is taken into account.” So, if we apply this to assessing resumes and the probability that the person would be a good employee, the “quantity” is the person and our “beliefs” are the prior beliefs we have about people from that group. In other words, a white employer, for example, bases her opinion on the Male, African-American sounding name on the resume on her prior assumptions about African-American men which are largely taken from the media and infused into our stories and socialization across generations; her approach to the Chinese-sounding name may be due to narratives in society and also her one negative experience with a particular Chinese employee which she has then mapped onto her thinking about the potential ‘fit’ of all people with Chinese names. If the white employer was to hire these two fictitious people, it would follow she would engage in a Bayesian updating process “to reflect a more accurate set of assumptions.”  But it’s much less effort to stick with her prior assumptions and continue hiring people with surnames like “Walker.” This, I think, explains implicit bias and why it persists: mental laziness. Good, liberal, privileged white people like me hire people like us because we’re lazy, and to change our institutions is threatening, in part, because of the perceived effort it would take.

Robyn D’Angelo articulated what has become widely seen as a useful concept to capture those behaviours white people engage in that stymie anti-racist efforts: white fragility. As it has been rightly noted, white fragility stems from centuries of white supremacy. D’Angelo explains that at the core of white fragility is defensiveness, appeals to innocence, and white people making it “about them.” These are the paths of least resistance; defensiveness (as an act of desired self-protection) often comes automatically—it’s incredibly hard work to not get defensive, hence the birth and explosion of relationship counselling. It takes a lot of mental effort, practice, and labour to do something different as individuals. Quite rightly, BIPOC people here and in the US are angry at appeals to educate me and other white folk about racism because we’re too lazy to teach ourselves.

Image by someecards

Perhaps it needs to be said that laziness is a privilege—not everyone gets to be lazy. Laziness evokes the image of the idle (white) rich, Marie-Antoinette lavishly eating a piece of cake. The poor cannot afford the luxury of laziness in their very efforts for survival. Racialised minorities have to fight, and put in more effort, to be recognised and to be seen as equal—to get that job despite their surname. We also have the erroneous narratives of the lazy immigrant, the lazy black single mum collecting welfare, the lazy overweight person eating pies, the lazy [insert your favourite ethnic minority here] etc. These (lazy) tropes attempt to justify racism (and sexism, discrimination against those not adhering to Western female beauty norms of slenderness etc.), offered up as a way of explaining away and justifying inequality within a protestant ethic capitalist society. It’s all a ruse, of course. We’re also stuck in a bind in both embracing and rejecting laziness. It all feels so exhausting.

So what is the antidote to laziness? I haven’t put in enough effort to really figure this out and would love to free-ride off your efforts. In seriousness, I do have some ideas about what doesn’t really work (which could be, again, a result of my sloppy thinking and not that well thought out). Systemic change is particularly challenging when conceived at the level of lazy individuals—we tend to need to be nudged into more pro-social behaviours (e.g., give me a separate recycling bin, I’ll use it; ask me to drive to Richmond to drop off my recycling, I’ll feel bad about dumping the plastic in the regular rubbish bin but not enough to make the 30-minute drive). Telling myself to do something, telling other people to change, or thinking constantly about myself hasn’t really helped me to make change. While effort, unfortunately, is required, I think it can be better directed.

Overall, I think we seriously need to question and respond to the hyperindividualism that has so pervaded our societies and institutions—exacerbated by postmodern neoliberalism and competitive capitalism. These trends have *not* led us to put in less overall effort. Ironically, doing and thinking about things by ourselves is often more work (and feels more like work) than thinking and doing together; a social movement is larger than the sum of its parts. Being alone in our laziness, in confronting our laziness, makes us more scared, feel more daunted, and be more likely to spiral into unproductive shame. At least it does for me—I employ the collective ‘we’ in my desperate attempt at belonging and a reflection of my own felt loneliness. I know: it is platitudeness (inherently lazy) to end this paper as a kumbaya call to all be friends, share the load, become our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers. Yet, I made no pretense that I wasn’t lazy (you were warned).

Image by Richard Watson

I think I’ll end with the plot of one of my 4-year old daughter’s favourite books: Clumpety Bump. Clumpety is a horse, a very lazy horse. Instead of galloping, he plods. Instead of helping out his owner, Wally Wobblebottom, so he can go and help his friends, Clumpety resists each time he’s called to do something that takes more effort, like jumping over a creek. He thinks, instead, “I can’t be bothered,” and takes the easiest route out, like stopping to eat the grass or whatever it is. In doing this, he causes Wally to get wet, or he squashes the grapes he was taking to a friend recovering from illness etc. As with all good children’s books, there is a morally preachy change: Clumpety becomes a lively horse who finally attempts to help out his buddy. This happens when Wally comes to him in obvious need as his tractor has failed him and he got all covered in mud. Clumpety stops thinking about himself and, knowing he is needed, gallops with Wally on his back to take some flowers to his friend. Unfortunately, while Clumpety does go quickly and doesn’t stop this time, when he arrives, he gives into his temptation and eats the flowers that were being taken as a gift

All of this is to say that laziness can’t be eradicated or entirely overcome, systems must be changed through collective action, and as those who have benefitted from colonization and white (and laziness) privilege, we’re going to screw it up but we should still try as a society in the knowledge that we are lazy.

Why I Can’t Hold Space for You Anymore, a Self-Examination Exercise

Why I Can’t Hold Space for You Anymore, a self-examination exercise

Vanessa Andreotti, Sharon Stein, Elwood Jimmy and the GTDF collective


Photo by: Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti

Systemic violence is complex and multi-layered. One thing that cuts across layers is the disproportionate amount of labour that Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) bear when they are expected to teach other people about systemic colonial and racial violence in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives.

 

The exercise “Why I can’t hold space for you anymore” was created by the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Arts/Research Collective, of which we are part. It presents an attempt to pedagogically address unconscious patterns of problematic behavior at work in EDI initiatives that are difficult to name and to interrupt.

The exercise consists of a poem and an invitation for self-examination. The poem lists the reasons why symbolic EDI statements and gestures are often costly for the well-being of BIPOC people.

This exercise was developed as part of an effort to illustrate the emotional and physical costs that manifest when BIPOC people are expected to hold spaces for institutional learning – especially white peoples’ learning – about complicities in historical, systemic and ongoing harm.

Read the poem once and pay attention to the different kinds of responses it evokes in you. After you have read the poem once, read the instructions that follow for the second part of the exercise.

 

Do You Really Want to Know Why I Can’t Hold Space for You Anymore?

 

Because
You see my body as an extension of your entitlements

 

Because
I have held space for you before
and every time, the same thing happens
You take up all the space
and expect me to use my time, energy and emotion
in service of fulfilling your desires:
to perform my trauma
to affirm your innocence
to celebrate your self-image
to center your feelings
to absolve you from guilt
to be always generous and generative
to filter what I say in order not to make you feel uncomfortable

to validate you as someone who is good and innocent
to be the appreciative audience for your self-expression
to provide the content of a transformative learning experience
to make you feel loved, important, special and safe
and you don’t even realize you are doing it

and you don’t even realize you are doing it

AND YOU DON’T EVEN REALIZE YOU ARE DOING IT

 

Because your support is always conditional
On whether it aligns with your agenda
On whether it is requested in a gentle way
On whether I perform a politics that is convenient for you
On whether it fits your personal brand
On whether it contributes to your legacy
On whether you will get rewarded for doing it
On whether it feels good
Or makes you look good
Or gives you the sense that we are “moving forward”

 

Because when you ‘give’ me space to speak
It comes with strings attached about
what I can and cannot say
and about how I can say it

You want an easy way out
A quick checklist or one-day workshop
on how to avoid being criticized
while you carry out business as usual

 

And even when I say what I want to say anyway
You can’t hear it
Or you listen selectively
And when you think you hear it
You consume it
You look for a way to say ‘that’s not me’
‘I’m one of the good ones’
and use what I say to criticize someone else
Or you nod empathetically and emphatically to my face and then
The next thing you do shows that while you can repeat my words
Your perceived entitlements remain exactly the same

 

And when I put my foot down or show how deeply angry or frustrated I am
You read me as ungrateful, incompetent, unreliable and betraying your confidence
You complain behind my back that I’m creating a hostile environment
You say I’m being unprofessional, emotional, oversensitive
That I need to get over it
That I’m blocking progress
That I shouldn’t be so angry
That my ancestors lost the battle
That not everything is about colonialism or racism or whiteness
That aren’t we all just people, in the end?
That we are all indigenous to some place
That you feel really connected to the earth, too
That you have an BIPOC friend/colleague/girlfriend that really likes you…
You minimize and further invisibilize my pain

 

Your learning
your self-actualization
your credibility
your security
and your social mobility

always come at my expense.

That is why I can’t hold space for your anymore.

 

After you have read the poem once, we invite you to read it again (one or more times) as an exercise of observation of your own neurophysiological responses. In this part of the exercise, we use a psychological narrative strategically to focus your attention on the responses of your amygdala, which is the part of the brain that stores information about emotional events and that manages situations of perceived threat.

 

In modern societies, our brain is trained to minimize threat and maximize reward. If something is perceived as a threat to one’s self-image, status, autonomy or security, the amygdala is triggered, prompting the responses of fight, flight, freeze and/or fawn (i.e. to please).

 

As you read the poem again, identify the parts of yourself that are engaged in these patterns of response:

 

fight

(defensiveness)

flight

(avoidance)

freeze

(feeling lost and helpless)

fawn

(trying to please)

 

·         denying

·         arguing

·         explaining

·         dominating discussion

·         delegitimizing/ discrediting

·         claim of being attacked

·         claim of objectivity (only you can see the truth)

·         insistence that it does not apply to you since you have (or have had) multi-ethnic friends or family members that can attest that you are a nice person

·         withdrawing

·         getting distracted

·         focusing on your intentions

·         insistence that you are misunderstood

·         arguing over words meanings or other details

·         offering counter-examples

·         use other forms of oppression (e.g. class, sexism, cis-hetero-normativity) to minimize the importance of race and colonialism

 

·         crying

·         numbing

·         deflecting

·         exiting

·         getting distracted

·         changing the subject

·         distancing

·         detaching

·         divesting

·         despairing

·         disconnecting

 

·         seeking absolution

·         self-flagellation

·         martyrdom

·         over-complimenting BIPOC people

·         seeking proximity

·         seeking praise

·         virtue-signaling

·         demanding attention

·         demanding validation (e.g. “I am one of the good ones”)

·         pretending to go along to get along (or to protect your image/interests)

 

 

 

As you identify these responses, document (in writing or drawing) how they manifest. Next, consider the fears, insecurities, and desires that could be behind these responses, and how these fears, insecurities, and desires could be unconsciously driving your actions and relationship building with BIPOC persons and communities.

 

Pause to consider:

  • the costs of these patterns in the long run both for the well-being of BIPOC people and for the depth and sustainability of the relationships you build;
  • what you would need to unlearn to enable healthier and more generative relationships with people from BIPOC backgrounds;
  • how you might be expecting BIPOC people to hold space for your unlearning and have patience with your inevitable mistakes;
  • how this expectation places a demand on BIPOC people’s time and labour, and requires them to re-live painful and traumatic experiences and frustrations;
  • how the labour that is expected of BIPOC people could be better acknowledged, rewarded, and better yet, (re)distributed in your institutional context.

 

Finally, consider how the “Fragility Questions” below can help you go deeper, recognizing that this exercise is only a starting point in an ongoing, life-long process of historical and systemic undoing, unlearning, and disinvesting from harmful cognitive, affective, and relational patterns.

 

Fragility Questions:

  • What do you expect, what are you afraid of, what prompts defensiveness? Who is this really about?
  • What underlying attachments may be directing your thinking, actions and relationships?
  • What cultural ignorances do you continue to embody and what social tensions are you failing to recognize?
  • What truths are you not ready, willing, or able to speak or to hear? What fantasies/delusions are you attached to?
  • What fears, perceptions, projections, desires and expectations could be informing (consciously and unconsciously) what you are doing/thinking? How may these things be affecting your relationships in negative ways?
  • Where are you stuck? What is keeping you there? How can you distinguish between escapist distractions and the work that needs to be done?
  • How do we learn to surrender perceived entitlements and underlying desires that become a barrier to our ability to have difficult conversations and go into difficult spaces together, without relationships falling apart?
  • How can being overwhelmed and disillusioned be productive?
  • What do you need to give up or let go of in order to go deeper? What is preventing you from being present and listening deeply without fear and without projections?

 

More question can be found in the deck of cards: With/Out modernity at https://decolonialfutures.net/withoutmodernitycards/

 

Further reading: Sara Ahmed’s book “ On Being Included Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life” (2012)  analyzes the ways that many institutions create EDI statements that assert they are committing to address systemic racism and colonialism, and then act as if the statement itself has done the work of change. These statements become symbolic and ‘non-performative’ when they are not accompanied by substantive difficult work on the part of the institution and its white members to interrupt racist and colonial patterns. In turn, BIPOC people often end up shouldering the labour of institutional change – and in many cases, being punished for trying to do it well.

 

The original version of this exercise was published on the Gesturing Towards Decolonial futures website: https://decolonialfutures.net/portfolio/why-i-cant-hold-space-for-you-anymore/

 

Academic Indian Job Description, a Poem

Academic Indian job description, a poem

By Cash Ahenakew


Photo by: Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti

 

have to know
western knowledge and education
plus the critique of
western knowledge and education

have to know
indigenous ‘culture’ and education
plus the critique and the critique of the critique of
indigenous ‘culture’ and education

have to know
how to embody expected authenticity
and how to embody expected critique
of expected authenticity

have to know
when and where to use indigenous literature
and when and where to use the Western canon
to build legitimacy and credibility for indigenous thought and experience

have to know
when to vilify, to romanticize, to essentialize
when to apologize, to complexify, to compromise
when and who to be accountable to and why

have to know
how to reject modernity, how to be a modern Indian
how to ignore contradictions

how to deny incommensurabilities

have to know
when and how to perform at the same time
competence, confidence, boldness, heroic rebelliousness
and humility, compliance and gratitude for the opportunity

have to know
how to be an intellectual, an activist, a therapist, and an entrepreneur
how to improve retention, attrition and social mobility
and how to stop exploitation and ecological disaster

have to know
how to educate ‘your people’, liberal allies, immigrants, colleagues
how to relate to gang members, business sponsors, elders, politicians
how to speak with the crows, the trees, the sea, and the media

have to know
how to face and to help others heal inter-generational trauma in
self-doubt, self-harm, self-hatred
and self-defeating prophecies of self-sabotage

have to know
how to read and mirror middle class sense making and sensibility
in writing, speech, clothing, arts, taste,

as well as waste management, and table manners

have to know
how to push back, to show a finger, to ghost dance
how to honour elders, to wash toilets, to carry the weight
how to perform ceremonies, to carry a pipe, and to cure the sick

have to know
how to how to spell, to pronounce, to solve and to fix
colonialism, capitalism, racism, slavery, patriarchy,
hetero-cis-normativity, ableism, elitism, and intersectional violence

have to know
languages lost and found of family, communities, earth, spirit
languages imposed of nation, property, individualism, competition
and institutional academic language of secular liberal humanism

have to know
how to Indigenize and decolonize
disciplines, protocols, ethics and methodologies
to make aspiring experts on Indigenous issues feel and look good

have to know
how to package all of this in a foreign English language
to convince top ranked journals and performance analysts
that you too, against all odds, have market value

have to know
how to live with the guilt of having credentials, a secure job
and the awareness of compliance with a rigged system
built on the broken back and wounded soul of your family members

have to know
how to advance the project of reconciliation
with relatives who have harmed seven generations
with destitution, dispossession and “cultural” genocide

 

Apply online now.

This poem was first published in the article: Ahenakew, C. (2016). Grafting Indigenous ways of knowing onto non-Indigenous ways of being: The (underestimated) challenges of a decolonial imagination. International Review of Qualitative Research, 9(3), 323-340.

No One Matters Until Black Lives Matter

No One Matters Until Black Lives Matter

June 4, 2020

By Sam Rocha

Original Post: https://medium.com/@SamRocha/no-one-matters-until-black-lives-matter-68822af9e49f

I don’t know where to begin so I guess I’ll just jump right in. I want to talk about race. Better yet, I want to talk about racism. When I talk about racism, I am talking more specifically about white supremacy in the United States of America.

It is hard to talk about this stuff for many reasons. For one, all the terms are disputable to some degree. Secondly, there are dual risks that people feel. On the one hand, people feel threatened by racism itself. This is the most important risk, I think, because ignoring this risk would undo the whole thing, assuming that we want to oppose racism and white supremacy. On the other hand, people who may not feel threatened by racism directly, feel threatened by being perceived to be a racist. They may not feel like they are directly threatened by racism but they do feel like they don’t want to fall into the category of being a racist. They want to be good or at least not so bad as to be a racist. This group seems less morally at risk to me, but I do think we can see why they feel this way. I think this hooded shame of being seen as a racist is a good thing because grave moral evil ought to produce guilt and fear.

When you put together the sense of urgency by the one directly threatened by racism and the other one’s fear of being perceived as racist and add to that the disputable terms, it is hard to communicate. This is all subjective and can shift around. There are even little subgroups with their own unique threats and fears and risks. The very idea of race is also slippery. Truth be told, we do not have a full grasp of what race, ethnicity, identity and more are. Some people like to jump on this lack of precision to sow doubt into the whole thing. Others double-down and end up in overly rigid positions that exclude real people, including themselves. I could go on and on. There is nothing easy here.

At the exact same time, we must be willing to accept the reality of racism and, in our time and place in the USA, white supremacy. There is no room to ignore or minimize this reality. It may be hard to figure out in the abstract or amongst different personal interests, but it is plain to see in the historical past and present. When you see someone who has collapsed and is unconscious, you do not need to know who they are exactly and you do not need to understand the nature of consciousness to accept the reality in front of you and the moral responsibility it entails. No one who sees someone who appears to be severely hurt should be skeptical or cynical about the appearance. Even if the reality is different, the demand of the appearance is nothing to scoff at.

Today we have seen plenty of reality and some try to throw tiny disputes of appearance at that. You cannot needle-away Chattel Slavery, Jim Crow, and their strange fruit. An entire decade of vandals and looters and rioters would never erase the legal sale of people and their legal degradation across nearly two centuries of a nation not yet three centuries old. Economic depression and loss of capital gains and even personal property will fare poorly in the moral court where people were once actual property, valued as capital, and denied access to anything of their own of proportional value to those they joined as free people.

I do not need to know who I am or what my exact ethnic and racial identity is or what the concept of race means or what the nature of “a people” or “a nation” is to see the all-too-often socially unconscious reality of racism, buoyed by historical racial prejudice and imaged and voiced by the recent anti-Black events we have seen in horror. The complexity of race is not an excuse to delay addressing racism directly. Most of all, the harm and injury to the person who is unconscious on the ground is not morally about you. The only person who might hesitate to help the injured person is the one who injured them in the first place.

The point I am making is that Black Lives Matter. This is about race, racism, and white supremacy. It is also about other things. It is also NOT about some things. What is most important to me, however, is that we realize that these three words are the anthem, they are the refrain. They are not enough but they are something and the truth they point to is hard to deal with. It is painful. It extends well beyond Black people without decentering them and their place in this nation. Imagine the tragedy of needing to say to people, “I, too, am a person.” When you hear this tragic song and join the singing, you do not lose your personhood, you only regain a sister and a brother.

Black Lives Matter is an anthem meant to dismantle white supremacy, it is the same song of freedom that Black is Beautiful and so many other refrains have resounded in the past. Everyone should sing this anthem. For some of us, we will sing it for the ones we love who are not ourselves. For some of us, we will sing it with shame and remorse for our sins and our faults. I know I will sing it that way. Some of us will sing it as an act of penance and a plea for forgiveness. Those who refuse to sing, who say “I have nothing to confess,” they are the ones who need to hear it most. Or, perhaps, those of us who sing Black Lives Matter sing it so that our beautiful Black brothers and sisters can hear it sung in a different voice and know that they do not sing alone this time.

What I am trying to say is that I do not deny how tricky and complicated and difficult this issue is. I relish digging into it. My own life story is fraught and mixed and, often, quite confusing. I do not know who I am. I am a Mexican-American who is both and neither Mexican and American. I am a Tejano and Texican who lives in Canada. But this is not about me, really, and the only way it is about me is in the way that rises above the reefs and weeds of complexity and first-person anecdote and reaches a universal moral depth where Black Lives Matter is the only option for the human race today. No one’s life matters until Black Lives Matter.

This is the kerygma, the good news, for today: Black Lives Matter. This news is good because it exposes and opposes the evil we see on the news, a scandal where a collective Cain bitterly and cynically asks “Am I my brother’s keeper?” as their brother bleeds and dies. The good news is this: Black Lives Matter can save the Black person from mortal death and the white person from moral decay. Those of us who are neither Black nor white cannot pretend that these options are not also our own stark burdens and the key to our own mortal and moral survival.

Black Lives Matter. Dismantle racism. Root out the evil of white supremacy not only in your own heart but in the collective heart we form as a society. With good hearts, we can attend to everything else there is to attend to without fear. If you are lucky enough to not need to fear racists then don’t let racism scare you. Be brave like the one who justly fears the racist must be and is being right now. Black Lives Matter.

 

 

The Durable Archaeology of Anti-Black Racism in North America

Ali A. Abdi

Few minutes before I started writing this short blogpost, the results from two independent autopsies on the death of George Floyd were announced. He did not die from so-called underlying conditions, but directly from asphyxiation due to physical pressures applied on his neck during close to nine minutes, complemented by extra force applied to his back, which constricted his airflows and by extension, the functioning of his lungs.

Beyond these ‘just-in’ facts, it is worth restating this oft-repeated question: just for the past few weeks, how many times have we seen this anti-black racism that devalues, then destroys the lives of African North Americans? The North American point is intentional here as the situation also applies to this northerly earth block called Canada. It is with this in mind and to rationalize the term ‘archeology’ in the title, sort of euphemistically, that one need not de-shelf or de-dust, a few thick volumes to decipher and analyze the intersecting and interconnecting historical, cultural and quotidian designs and applications of white racism on the psychosomatic existentialities of African Americans and African Canadians. Beyond the deliberate asphyxiation of George Floyd, we witnessed, just in the past weeks, the killings – at close range – of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, by white police officers and self-styled white vigilantes. We also not need forget the narrow escape from the same fate of Christian Cooper, a Harvard graduate, an avid bird watcher and member of the New York Audubon Society. By politely asking a white woman, Amy Cooper (no known relationship) to leash her dog as was required for the area in NYC Central Park, a barrage of racist accusations were suddenly unleashed on him. Fortunately this time, Mr. Cooper survived, and Ms. Cooper got some (not all) of what she deserved.

In the Canadian case, I can list a number of African Canadians killed by the police in the past little while, but I shall stay for now more with the current American situation. Just to mention that there is the ongoing investigation into the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet from Toronto who fell to her death from her balcony recently while police officers were in her apartment. For the racist killers of George, Ahmaud and Breonna, and their racist supporters, it should be clear by now: BLACK LIVES DO NOT MATTER. Well, in pure scientific terms and with the massive genetic evidence available, there is only one human race. Possible conclusion here: if black lives do not matter, then this tragic principle applies to all lives. Of course, black lives matter and by extension, all human race lives matter which is, by the way, a legislated fact in both the Canadian and American constitutions. So how is it that we cannot so far solve these tragedies through the law? A brilliant answer from Martin Luther King Jr.: human morals and decency cannot be legislated, and legislation cannot repair the hearts of the heartless.

In terms of my current professional context (EDST), and speaking for myself ONLY, I can achieve better ethical and morally constructive platforms by accepting others as an extension of my own humanity. That is, by living the basic tenets of the African life philosophy of Ubuntu: you are only a person through the full personhood of others. To go back to the archeology point, euphemistically again (with extractable allegorical escape routes if needed), this inter-connected humanization of our lives can be expanded via the excavation and urgent re-examination of our primordial (even primeval) cognitive constructions, across-time-and-space ontological formations, and epistemological socializations and valuations, all analyzed into our currently globally linked contemporaneous realities and attached pragmatisms.

Indeed, if I am hurriedly deploying, in my teaching and research, as I actually do, the central role of education in the social, cultural and political liberation of societies with the main objective of achieving people’s wellbeing and ecological sustainability, then I must minimally accord all persons their primordial right (at birth) for human dignity and viably safe life conditions. By doing so, through interpersonal, dialogic and wider professional connections, I could advance the urgently needed antiracist projects, even achieve, to borrow half a line from Martha Nussbaum, wider and thicker threads of my common humanity with others.

To be continued.